What an extraordinary three days away!
As we hurtled along the main national highway at seemingly a 150 kph, cusses and grizzles spilling from Vags`s mouth, I lurched like a rag doll over craters and ridges in the tarmac. Whilst dodging dawdling tourists hovering uncertainly in the central lane, or a careless driver pulling out of side road in front of him, he adeptly dealt the obligatory verbal tirade. I clung to the car door handle grimly, in an attempt to keep from been tossed from my seat as we took the corner. I swear I could see devils horns sprouting amongst his hair, but dared not stare too long, for fear of prompting another venting of what was very obviously, a perhaps abnormal amount of tension.
I quietly suggested I take the wheel to give him a break, but the response was far from positive. I sat back and wondered how hubbie had become so “wired”.
Ironically, we had decided that to celebrate my birthday we`d get away for a couple of days. Despite his various attempts to postpone and insistence that he had too much to do, I managed to book one night and bundled a bag together with basics and told him we would be leaving the next morning.
Once we exited the chaotic main national highway though, I could see Vags`s shoulders relax, the horns retracted, the bulging veins eased with each elevated metre.
Arriving at our destination of Argyroupoli, West of Rethymno, at a modest 260 metres elevation, with population of a mere 400 or so, we parked up in the central square for refreshments. I could tell immediately, I`d made a great choice. The village is adorable, with fabulous views down the valley towards the coast. Venetian monuments and imposing churches stood out on the sky line, charming courtyards, blissfully overgrown with grape vines and beauganvillias, ancient mosaic flooring displayed, carefully protected from the elements, pretty alleyways snaking around the gently sloping hillside. A modest selection of tourist shops with distinct wares. There was no hampering of the few tourists wandering the streets, just pleasant greetings and smiles.
I`d booked to stay in a revamped Venetian home, which was set around a central courtyard, multi leveled and charming. From here, we could enjoy trips out to local sights, including the natural springs and icy cold rivers running through mini ravines and shady forests.
Our host, the larger than life Manolis, entertained us in the late afternoon over coffee, regaling stories from his interesting life, an ex commander in the Greek army, sea-captain and well-travelled with three nationalities. The epilogue to his conversation left me quite speechless. He resolutely told us, that there would be a Cretan revolution before the year is through. I listened avidly, not quite able to decide whether I was conversing with somebody serious, having a firm grasp on the unspoken undercurrents of Crete, or whether he`d been over exposed to the sun. He spoke with such tenacity and seriousness, I found it difficult to not believe his version. He was a source of much information about Crete, and specifically his village, Argyroupoli.
We excused ourselves from this intriguing conversation, and ventured out to eat. It was late. The village had transformed into a haven of stillness, quietness, where small groups of locals sat in gardens and balconies, reviewing the spent day. As we finished our simple meal, doors around us pulled closed, we almost felt that the street lamps would be turned off, as this village went to sleep and we`d be left with just the moonlight to guide us home.
Serenity filled our senses, blotting out stresses and anguished thoughts with its gentleness. Aromas of mint, carob and jasmine crept along the cooling tarmac. Bats, swooping low, accompanied us back to our room.
We woke again to utter peacefulness, no car or truck noise, no barking dogs, no noisy chattering housewives, or whiney children. A beautiful, simple breakfast awaited us on the terrace, where we drank in the magnificent views.